Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Don't Drive While Loaded

Higgins at mental_floss shares five things he learned at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center:

2. Emigrants didn’t know how to handle their guns. According to several exhibits, accidental gunfire was a leading cause of death on the Oregon Trail (and I seem to remember this from the Oregon Trail video game). The issue was that emigrants brought muzzle-loading rifles which required a laborious loading procedure — involving a piece of wetted cotton, a lead ball, a ramrod, a firing cap, and a few minutes of fiddling — which was deemed too time-consuming if the weapon was needed in a hurry. As a result, wagons were trundling along the plains with loaded rifles in them. Of course, when a wagon hit a big enough bump, the weapon would discharge, often with tragic results. (Later invention of the breech-loading rifle largely eliminated this problem.)
Whenever I played the Oregon Trail video game I died from malnutrition before I got the chance to shoot myself.

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